Friday, July 18, 2008

One Quarter and One Half

grandfatherPhoto by Oscar Anderson, circa 1920

My late grandfather (on the right) and I have about 25% of our genes in common. This photo was taken when he was about half my age. Looking back at yourself-not-yourself through an old photograph is, for me, strangely calming. Here is a man, part of me, looking ahead in life, looking forward to what I've already left behind. The life of a farmer/laborer during the twenties and thirties was not exactly trend-setting. A semi-skilled worker, a man without pretense, but an honest man. A man of the 19th century, who lived long enough to find himself out-dated in a world that had rapidly changed.

But those genes! Even with a diet of white bread and Snüs he lived well beyond his expectancy- the blessing/curse of most Scandinavians. "Too dumb to know when to die" I've heard it said, but the fact remains that the "three-score and ten" rule is, barring calamity, about 20-30% low for this ethnic group. It makes planning one's estate especially daunting.

Here's to you Charlie Aaron! And to your pal in the photo (with that jaunty hat it might well be "Poker Charlie".) And here's to you, my great-uncle Oscar, the family ne'er-do-well, whose pictures are all that remain of that fine summer's day, so many, many years ago.

By Professor Batty


Anonymous Jon said...

Dear perfesser,
Where do you suppose that picture was taken? I really like those photos of a different era. Got a few favorites of my own.

Blogger Professor Batty said...

... somewhere near Upsala Minnesota... click on the picture for more info...

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